On our recent vacation, I let my son go. I let him climb a Mayan temple that was taller than I was comfortable with, I let him swim on his own above the reef, I let him explore the world away from me.
The protective Mommy genes in me hated all these things, but I knew they were necessary. I know that my son is growing up and he needs a safe place to navigate the world a bit on his own. Because he was relatively safe in each of those scenarios, even though they seemed really unstable to him at the time.
And that is the point: All children need some safe instability to help them learn how to deal with real instability later on in life. Now, when I say "safe instability" I am not talking about a life in which children don't have enough of their basic needs me. I am talking about shaking up their normal routine and taking them outside of their comfort zone. Studies say that it is really good for them (and it is good for us parents, too).
The family on that article link above moved to another country to shake up their family routine. While I am not willing to go to that extreme, I am more than willing to have my son try a new activity, see a new city, or navigate somewhere on his own. Anything that makes him feel a little less safe and way more resilient when he gets through it.
It's just really, really hard to let him do all that.
Do you let your children explore more than you feel comfortable with? Tell me how you handle it in the comments.